Chocoholic mice fear no pain

Feb 09, 2010

Ever get a buzz from eating chocolate? A study published in the open access journal BMC Neuroscience has shown that chocolate-craving mice are ready to tolerate electric shocks to get their fix.

Rossella Ventura worked with a team of researchers from the Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome, Italy, to study the links between stress and compulsive food-seeking. She said, “We used a new model of compulsive behavior to test whether a previous stressful experience of hunger might override a conditioned response to avoid a certain kind of food - in this case, chocolate”.

Ventura and her colleagues first trained well-fed and starved mice to seek chocolate in one chamber rather than going into an empty chamber. Then, they added a mild electric shock to the chamber containing the chocolate. Unsurprisingly, the well-fed animals avoided the sweet treat. 

However, mice that had previously been starved, before being allowed to eat their way back up their normal weight, resisted this conditioning - continuing to seek out despite the painful consequences. This is an index of and the researchers claim that this matches compulsive food seeking in the face of negative consequences in humans.


Explore further: Mere expectation of treatment can improve brain activity in Parkinson's patients

More information: Food seeking in spite of harmful consequences is under prefrontal cortical noradrenergic control, Emanuele Claudio Latagliata, Enrico Patrono, Stefano Puglisi-Allegra and Rossella Ventura, BMC Neuroscience 2010 11:15, doi:10.1186/1471-2202-11-15

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nice but naughty -- our addiction to chocolate

Sep 11, 2007

Chocolate is the most widely and frequently craved food. People readily admit to being ‘addicted to chocolate’ or willingly label themselves as ‘chocoholics’. A popular explanation for this is that chocolate contains ...

Recommended for you

Virtual motion, real consequences

19 hours ago

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have shown that virtual optical stimuli can lead to aftereffects that significantly alter our perception of self-motion. This finding has implications for ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.